N.H. Immigrants Become Citizens at Naturalization Ceremony in Portsmouth

Jul 4, 2018

The new U.S. citizens celebrated during the naturalization ceremony on the grounds of the Strawbery Banke Museum.
Credit Leila Goldstein/NHPR

At a naturalization ceremony Wednesday at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, 103 people from 49 countries became U.S. citizens.

The ceremony on Independence Day began with a posting of the colors by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Color Guard. The crowd of new citizens took the Oath of Allegiance, and then came the Call of Countries. New citizens stood up as their country of origin was called, from Albania to Zimbabwe.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, and Governor Chris Sununu all spoke at the event. U.S. District Court Judge Joseph N. Laplante presided over the ceremony.

NHPR's Leila Goldstein stopped by the ceremony and spoke with six new U.S. citizens: Tilak Niroula from Bhutan, Hajar Slaoui from Morocco, Opeyemi Talabi from Nigeria, Alyne Gagne from Brazil, Margaret Danquah from Ghana, and Michael Aldous from Canada.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Hajar Slaoui, from Morocco, shows her red, white and blue nails before the ceremony.
Credit Leila Goldstein/NHPR

  

Hajar Slaoui: I'm Moroccan, from Morocco, and today I'm going to become a U.S. citizen. I'm so excited.

Opeyemi Talabi: I feel so happy. It’s such a great thing, because there are so many people that have been in the country, they could not do what I’m doing today.

Michael Aldous: I feel like I can finally participate and not sort of live on the sidelines and watch everything happen.

Margaret Danquah: Sometimes when it's election time and my husband can vote  and I can’t, I really get pissed off, sorry. So with all the rights which come with what is going on in this country, I think we all want to have a say in what is happening.

Alyne Gagne: It's so exciting. I don't know what to tell you. I'm very happy and excited. The process was a little slow for me. I had issues with my papers. They misplaced a bunch of papers. I had to do everything again. But anyway, everything went well, and here I am.

Tilak Niroula, originally from Bhutan, right after receiving his Certificate of Naturalization.
Credit Leila Goldstein/NHPR

Michael Aldous: It was long. I've been here since 1996 on a series of visas based on school or employment and ultimately a green card based on my marriage. So it's been a while and that's another reason why we're pretty excited it's over.

Tilak Niroula: I spent almost 20 years of my life in a refugee camp in Nepal. Finally the U.S. government, they came with a proposal that they want to resettle those refugees. And then I feel like, OK, now some kind of hope came. Now I’m going to get my citizenship rights.

Margaret Danquah: There's some sense of patriotism and love that goes with being an American citizen. And with all the things that is happening, I still think this is a great place to be and I'm happy that I'm going to be an American citizen.